"I felt myself coming back to where I want to be," Sloane Stephens said with a smile after her win over Karolina Muchova in the third round of Roland Garros. She was feisty and determined with strong strategies in the opening set over the Czech who's clocked out winners over many top 20 players.
But it was Stephens that won the first set 6-3 which gave her confidence to deal a tough match to Muchova and come up winning. The second set was a fight for both players. One for Muchova, who was trying to level up the sets and have a chance to win the match; another for Stephens who had the advantage of an opening set win and to keep maintaining pace, endurance and skill to gain victory over the devious Czech.
It was a see-saw set, both exchanging break points but Muchova started developing a massive amount of drop shots that gave Stephens concern on breaking that defense over her. The former US Open champ had never played Muchova before, but just knowing tht the Czech had defeated Garbine Muguruza at the 2018 US Open and a year later won over Karolina Pliskova was test enough for Stephens to play serious hard ball tennis.
Muchova had also done damage over the WTA's no. 1 player Ashleigh Barty at this year's Australian Open and has captured one WTA title the 2109 Korea Open. Stephens knew this had to be her time to win and planted her tactics correctly.
The second and deciding set became tense as Muchova fought back rather cool and calmly with overheads, down-the-lines and was proficient in moving Stephens around, finding the open space to hit winners. The match came down to a 5-all duel, but it was Sloane who hit the right shots at the right time to get the victory.
After the match Stephens matter-of-factly mentioned she was glad to "just being able to execute..." her shots and strategies on the feisty Czech to gain the 7-5 success. "She was plugged in," Tennis Channel commentator Chanda Rubin commented on how Sloane Stephens claimed victory.
Not letting negativity come into her mindset, also was the key to showing great things out there on court. Stephens next duel will be with another Czech Barbora Krejcikova. They have never met against one another either but the Czech is more of a doubles' than singles' player.
If Miss Stephens keeps her confidence and strategies in check, she's assured on winning Round 16. Going deep at Roland Garros may be a challenge for Sloane, but she's on a roll now and her opponents may not be able to stop her from gaining her dessert as a finalist at the French Open tournament.